Shear talent earns novice contest placing

Matau resident Ashleigh Holtham took home third place in the local novice shearing competition at the 28th annual Taranaki Shears.

The 18-year-old enrolled at Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre in January and was encouraged to enter the competition by her tutor Daniel Reardon.

"The novice shear is judged on quality and she has a good hand," says Daniel.

Ashleigh had experience crutching and dagging on her parents' Matau property, but had only been doing a full shear for three weeks.

Ashleigh's classmates were on hand to cheer her on, with a team of Taratahi students working as volunteers supporting the event by handling the sheep in the top pens behind the boards.

There are 10 sheep to a pen and shearers decide which order they want the sheep to come out in.

A turnaround of less than a minute means catching and presenting the right animal at the door.

During the course of the day 900 sheep were shorn, with a total of 75 shearers and 25 wool handlers competing at the event.

"It's a great experience for the students to see that standard of competitive shearing first hand," Daniel says.

"With current and former world champions and the current Golden Shears champion all competing, they had the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the best."

- Stratford Press

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